Skiing in Sappada

We went skiing in Sappada over the weekend.  Sappada is a cute little ski town in the Dolomites about 2 hours from us.  We always stay at the Hotel Haus Michaela.  The owner is so kind and helpful and the kids love her.  She  always gives them a bag of candy when we check-out and will customize their gelato order.  That is service!

This was last year’s ski trip.  They’ve grown a lot!

Sappada has a perfect ski hill for kids.  I’m not sure if Clara will ever really take to it, but Benjamin is really flying now.  Wish I had pictures of him in action.

We also enjoyed Nevelandia – which translates to snow land.  It’s just a big snowy play land.  They have bounce houses, an ice skating rink, sledding and tubing, trampolines, and a lot of room for snow angels.  I wish I had taken more pictures, but picture taking with cold weather gear on is no small feat!

Finally a legit snow angel!


I went to look for Clara at one point and found her in this little cave.


We were lucky and got about 4 inches of fresh snow the night we got there.


I love the little alpine huts!


This was Clara’s favorite ride ever!  I think she went around in this tube for 45 minutes. I thought she was going to sleep!



We even got to play in a real igloo!


We picked up this hand carved wooden mask at a local shop.  These masks are used for Carnevale and are typical of this area.


I love this mask! The carver had even burned his name and date into the interior.


We just happened to be in Sappada for Carnevale last year.  This is the full costume and a sample of more typical wooden masks.




Bessich Winery Festa

Bessich Wines, one of the local wineries, put on a big wine tasting event.  An event I couldn’t miss on such a beautiful spring day.


They held a little “bread making” class for the kids.


Love these pudgy little hands
anxiously awaiting the final product


Gotta love a room full of demijohns filled to the brim with vino!


We enjoyed a local lunch of frico (a patty of fried Montasio cheese and potatoes) and polenta.  The kids finally got to do quality control on their baked good.


We sipped some wine while all of the kids went crazy in the bounce house.


They even had a “horsey ride” through the vineyard.


It’s quite a beautiful backdrop for the vineyard.  The mountains here always remind me of home.


This horse got in big trouble for stopping to eat the grape leaves. IMG_5331


Blue skies, a rare appearance from the sun, lots of local wine, and happy kids = a most delightful day!  Arrividerci!


Our First Visitor!

My brother Adam, an amazingly talented artist,  came our way for a quick visit before he soaked in all of the art history Italy has to offer.  We met in Venice for the day.  He took in the museums and I wandered the alleys with the kids.


If you want to experience one of the most miserable experiences of your life, take the big water bus.  Otherwise, the water taxi is totally worth the splurge.  Venice is one of those cities where you will blow through money faster than you could ever imagine.  I think it is best to mentally prepare yourself and enjoy your time.


We were so lucky to have beautiful weather all weekend because it had been raining buckets for months!


While wandering through Venice with the kids, we looked at the fish, chased bubbles, enjoyed gelato, and watched the gondolas row by.


I think every kid in Venice logged time with the bubbles.  These guys must make a killing.


We all dined at this lovely spot right outside of the hotel for dinner.  The hotel was wasn’t fancy by any means, but with a five minute walk to Piazza San Marco, the location couldn’t be beat.


Our hotel

I left Venice with the kids as soon as possible as it is not a bit child friendly.  The crowds are insane, it’s just too much walking, and a bathroom is impossible to find!  My brother enjoyed another day getting lost in the alleys.

The next day, we showed him around Maniago, Lago di Barcis, and drove through the Dolomites.


We enjoyed a coffee while the kids played at the playground.  Sister will always find a place to relax.



Piazza Italia in Maniago

The last day of his visit we took  a day trip to Piran, Slovenia. Slovenia’s coastline only stretches 27 miles. Piran is located at the very tip of a narrow peninsula.  It’s old town is one of the best preserved historical towns anywhere on the Adriatic.   20160508-_DSC244020160508-_DSC2444


Tartini Square named after the violinist Giuseppe Tartini

We enjoyed lunch and a good bottle of local Slovenian wine in the square.


The kids had time to run around the square.


We strolled through the old winding alleyways.


We climbed the bell tower for spectacular views of the city and Tartini Square.  From up here we could hear a choir practicing on one of the balconies down below.  We never did figure out where the sound was coming from, but listening was treat!


Hello down there!


Laskos under the sun at this seaside cafe — does life get any better?!?



Looks so inviting!


We capped off our time in Piran with a gelato stop.  Benny was served his first ice cream cone.  He felt like such a hot shot.


Looks like we missed another day of rain in Maniago and came home to a  beautiful rainbow.  We had a good visit with my brother and now he’s off to explore Italy’s endless treasures.








The day after Christmas we took a quick jaunt to Aquileia. Also being an Italian holiday, we were lucky it was open (apparently Christmas is a three day event).

Founded in 181 BC, Aquileia was one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the Roman Empire.  It is also believed to be the last Roman city to remain unexcavated.

There was a nice nature walk from the Roman ruins leading up to the town center.


Benny was so intrigued with this tree and believes candy lives behind the door. 

We visited the Basilica di Aquileia.  The basilica was originally built in 313 AD and rebuilt four different times.  Today it is Romanesque-Gothic style and has the most amazing 4th century mosaic floor.  They had elevated glass walkways around the perimeter.  I didn’t get any pictures inside, so I got these from

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These mosaics had been covered up by tile and were uncovered around 1909.  I can’t imagine hiding this beautiful floor with boring tile!


Under the bell tower is the crypt of excavations.  They had another elevated walkway to view the excavations and additional mosaics.  Benny loved the “secret pathways”.

photo from

After viewing the basilica, we had plenty of time to monkey around the gardens.






The pyramids are urns corresponding to the life and burial of an old inhabitant of Aquileia. 

We had lunch.  Benny was THRILLED to be served water in a wine goblet.



Trying to beat the fog rolling in. 

Andreis: Christmas Trees and Carvings

We visited a tiny village in the Dolomites known for it’s Christmas tree displays called Andreis.  Unknowingly, we took a  backroad to get there and with Derek not feeling well, the twists and turns were very unkind. The one lane Alpine roads are no joke.  It took us over an hour to get there and it turned out to be about 10 minutes behind Maniago!

Almost every home had a Christmas tree or wooden carving outside or peeking through the window.  20151224-_DSC2316

A playground is always a highlight!

The streets were filled with wooden carvings.


I loved these wooden candles in planters all over the village!


More trees…

I thought this display was adorable!

We stopped for lunch at the only small restaurant in the village.  They had the most delicious ham and cheese strudel which I believe both Derek and I have been dreaming about ever since.  We must return soon!

Beautiful village with stunning views!



Please don’t fall through!!!

I love the look of these trees for some reason.


Presepi in Poffabro

Poffabro is a village of  about 180 people.  Every single window had a unique handcrafted nativity scene. I believe the theme was crib between the cribs. I’m not quite sure what that means, but I wish I had known that before we went and I would’ve looked at them closer.

Our town Maniago was offering a free shuttle bus to village (about 10 minutes away) so we hopped on to check it out.

Benny loved the bus!


The kids loved looking at the “little villages” as Benny would say.  Some were quite large and intricate and others were tiny.


I thought this was interesting.  I wondered why they were all buried…


Vin Brule is always a good idea!

And of course, every town in Italy has a beautiful church.